Activist NZX investor Mike Daniel reckons the NZ Shareholders Association is being too soft on the stock exchange operator as he ramps up criticism ahead of the annual meeting.

And, perhaps surprisingly given his harsh statements about the NZX, Daniel's trusts have increased their shareholding in the company in recent months.

In February Daniel gathered a group of disgruntled shareholders to try and force change at NZX, whose performance they described as the worst in the world for a listed stock exchange.

In a letter to chairman James Miller, the group urged the NZX to significantly cut costs or face a boardroom challenge at this Friday's annual meeting.


Last week the New Zealand Shareholders Association issued proxy advice to members with a critical assessment of NZX.

"We do agree that NZX needs to be very careful to control costs and there have been some signs that management needs to do better in this area," it said.

The association lamented the lack of new equity listings on the stock exchange and also questioned NZX's memorandum of understanding with the Singapore Stock Exchange, which had yet to yield benefits, it said.

However, the NZX was "moving down the right track" with recent changes it had made, including and the NZSA told members that it will still support the election and re-election of two directors.

"We remain unconvinced that constant upheaval will be effective and would prefer to see another year pass to measure what has already been altered," it says.

However, Daniel took issue with this approach, telling the Herald that the recommendation for "more of the same" appeared to run counter to other examples of poor shareholder returns.

"Historically my recollection of NZSA's attitude in many similar instances of poor performance has been uncompromising in its efforts to see better."

NZSA chief executive Michael Midgley referred comment to the proxy statement while noting the NZX had been through a period of rebuilding after inheriting some costly issues, such as the Clear Grain Exchange legal fight.

He also said while NZX's share price performance was poor, the company still paid a healthy dividend, which was attractive to their members.


Despite his criticism, Daniel's associated trusts have purchased more NZX shares in recent months.

NZX data shows Daniel's Trust holding has increased from 1.6m shares to 3.76m shares since September last year.

NZX shares recently traded at $1, having fallen about 20 per cent since August 2017.

Daniel said his trusts had been buying on weakness on the prospect of proposed changes leading to a turnaround.